Written by: PP on 30/01/2021 16:17:31

"Sleepville" is the fourth album by Belgian skate punkers F.O.D. and certainly their most ambitious one to date. At fourteen tracks spanning over 40 minutes (+ a vinyl 'C-side' that has an extra 10 cuts), the record is a concept album revolving around Annie, an elderly woman attempting to reconstruct her life experiences into one coherent story through reflecting on the past. The result is a mammoth record not often encountered within tight, melodic punk rock circles like this one. For instance, the record isn't afraid to include string instruments to form an orchestral soundscape at times to enhance the punk rock sound.

It's a rather dramatic increase in ambition and stylistic choice from the brilliant "Harvest" from 2017. Yes, F.O.D. still largely stay true to their core sound: the melodicore inspired by Tony Sly's No Use For A Name albums where harmonious vocals meet breakneck speed, tight yet melodic guitar distortion, and skate punk style d-beat percussion. Songs like "Fall In Line" are great examples of the infectiously catchy, punk rock godhood these Belgians have been releasing for years.

That core is extended by passages with additional instrumentation that break the punk rock formula: horns, violins, double bass, and more, as well as the more experimental rhythms and vocal lines, such as on "Riverview", which is one of the better, folksier tracks on the record that expands on the punk sound. Similarly, "Feeling Gay" is an up-then-down ballad style punk rock that breaks into something Green Day could've released on "Insomniac" back in the 90s, with clarinet and other orchestral elements embedded within.

As a result, "Sleepville" tries to be something more than a (great) NUFAN clone by pushing the punk rock envelope a little further than anticipated. The result is surprisingly enjoyable: huge soundscapes mesh pretty well with breakneck speed guitar and melodic singing. But it begs the question to be asked? Does it really need to be pushed in this direction? In my opinion, no. Where "Harvest" was incredible was in its ability to channel melodicore (or melodic punk rock) exactly how its fans want it to sound like, with an edge and passion like few other bands possess these days, "Sleepville" just doesn't have the fiery burn and aggressive lining as a result of the expanded soundscape. The experimental second half also throws me off as a punk rock fan: it's solid, but not exactly what I'm looking for in F.O.D. to be perfectly honest. Still, there's no denying that "Sleepville" is a rock-solid album nonetheless, even if it lies in the shadow of "Harvest" at least in the ears of this reviewer.


Download: Fall In Line, Riverview, Wrong, Food For Thought
For the fans of: No Use For A Name, Good Riddance, Useless ID, Frenzal Rhomb, Lagwagon, Green Day, Bad Religion
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.03.2020
Bearded Punk Records / Wiretap / Thousand Islands

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